Today, the Obama administration released its FY 2012 budget, and with it the Pentagon’s spending request. Regrettably, the Pentagon’s plan shows that the federal government’s 4th consecutive $1 trillion-plus annual deficit has not quelled an appetite for a continued quasi-imperial foreign policy that subsidizes a multitude of rich allies around the globe.
Unfortunately, if you argue against such a massive budget, you are immediately labeled an “isolationist.” Take the example of Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) crusade to cut the federal budget by $500 billion. Among many other substantive cuts, Senator Paul called for ending U.S. foreign aid around the globe. And when pressed, he included aid to Israel.
Aid to Israel represents less than one percent of his proposal, but the reaction was swift and immediate. The Senator was labeled a “neo-isolationist,” and condemned widely, while his argument for ending aid to Israel was not addressed. Benjamin Friedman wrote about this episode in the Daily Caller and presented his own arguments for ending aid to Israel.
Expanding on this theme, over at The Skeptics I have written a piece citing the vociferous attacks on Senator Paul as the latest example of modern conservatives—often of the neo-conservative variety—and liberals coming together to label anyone with a noninterventionist foreign policy outlook an isolationist:
Conservatism once was cautious, urged prudence, and emphasized fidelity to the Constitution. Conservatives saw responsibility as the flip-side of liberty, opposed the transfer society, and detested welfare dependence. On international affairs conservatives believed in defending America, not promoting social engineering overseas.
Liberals responded by tarring traditional conservatives as “isolationists.” Skeptical of joining imperial wars in the name of democracy, unwilling to risk American lives in dubious foreign crusades, and unenthused about transferring U.S. wealth abroad, traditionalists were treated as somehow disreputable. After all, progressive thought required turning Americans into warriors on behalf of a new global ethic.
Now neoconservatives toss the same epithet at conservatives who oppose promiscuous war-making and endless foreign aid. Never mind that many opponents of today’s hyperinterventionist foreign policy favor free trade, cultural exchange, liberal immigration, and political cooperation. If you do not believe in bombing, invading, and occupying adversaries and subsidizing allies, then you be an isolationist.
Click here to read the entire article.